Tuesday 11 December 2018

Malone turns tide as Clare shrug off Kerry loss to outgun Offaly

Clare 1-19 Offaly 2-14

Clare’s Ciarán Malone gets away from Michael Brazil during the football
qualifier Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Clare’s Ciarán Malone gets away from Michael Brazil during the football qualifier Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

Jamie Malone stood out on an energy-sapping afternoon in Tullamore as Clare got their championship back on track.

With a heavy defeat to Kerry in the Munster semi-final still hovering over them, Colm Collins' charges edged a tight and highly entertaining battle with Offaly, who were looking to extend their summer after a premature exit from the Leinster championship and a change of management.

Ruairí McNamee of Offaly scores a point under pressure from Robert Eyres of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ruairí McNamee of Offaly scores a point under pressure from Robert Eyres of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Both sides coughed up a lot of chances - with better finishing, Clare could have put the game to bed by half-time.

Malone was the star of the opening 35 minutes of an outstanding match and it was his goal that got Clare motoring. He also hit the crossbar and a post, before Offaly scored the last 1-2 of the half to go in level.

The goal came from a penalty, which goalkeeper Alan Mulhall blasted to the roof of the net.

While Offaly may have been fortunate to still be in the game, they came back out in the second half in tune and having adjusted to the pace of the game. They were also in their white away jerseys, having ditched their sweat-soaked normal colours.

Brian Darby of Offaly in action against Cian O'Dea of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Brian Darby of Offaly in action against Cian O'Dea of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The Faithful County ended up having chances to win it but Clare were always able to stay that step ahead, with Eoin Cleary chipping in with some huge scores.

After Ruairi McNamee hit the net for Offaly in the fourth minute, the home side led 1-1 to 0-2.

Clare were wasteful but eventually found their way with a Malone goal on 23 minutes sparking them into life.

Malone and Cleary clipped over some superb scores and they looked well in control as they led 1-8 to 1-4 with two minutes left in the half.

Ruairí McNamee of Offaly in action against Cian O'Dea of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ruairí McNamee of Offaly in action against Cian O'Dea of Clare. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Offaly then gave themselves a chance with Johnny Moloney popping over a point before Mulhall smashed in a penalty to leave it all square at half-time - 1-8 to 2-5.

Clare got the first two scores of the second half but Offaly were in no mood to fall away and the game was back level with 30 minutes to go.

Offaly briefly took the lead through captain Anton Sullivan before Clare got four scores on the bounce to lead 1-14 to 2-8 with 20 minutes to go.

McNamee almost had his second goal but blazed over as both sides kept the scores flowing.

Eoin Cleary of Clare in action against Alan Mulhall of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Eoin Cleary of Clare in action against Alan Mulhall of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

With Bernard Allen on form from frees and Clare substitute Gearoid O'Brien making a real impact, the Banner men were just able to keep their noses in front.

With a point between the sides, sub Kevin Harnett popped over the final score of the game to leave the margin at two points in the wind-up.

"It's great to be there. You see who you get, look for a performance the next day and you never know where that'll take you," said Clare's Colm Collins.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport